Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Things to Do

The Basics

The Frills
have a manicure
cut your toenails
make popcorn
ride a bike
haul out the trash
cut your hair
shave your head
polish the silverware
mow the lawn
grow a mustache
shave your beard
brush and floss
clean out the attic
make soup
pay bills
walk the dog
grow vegetables
ride a horse
plant flowers
go for a drive
make a Christmas list
cook dinner
slaughter animals (go hunting)
paint furniture
make art
sell art
rob a bank
plan a trip
fly a kite
rake leaves
go on a boat ride
play board games
clean toilets
sweep the floor
invent something
play sports
waste time (watch TV, see a movie, go shopping)
get pregnant and have a baby (this can take up to 20 years)
have sex
make music
visit the dead
run a marathon
care for your pets
take a shower
take a bath
soak in a hot tub
change the cat litter box
snow or water ski
clean out the refrigerator
create a masterpiece
have surgery
go to the bathroom
play ping pong
shave your legs (women)
rearrange the furniture
wash the car
the backstroke
raise chickens
watch the clouds
make egg salad

The Thought Police

Mixed Race Citizen X (MRCX) was mildly upset when he retrieved his Morning Missive and saw that the Daily Word Codes were missing. "Oh well," he thought to himself, "I guess they can't be too different from yesterday," and went about his business. Still, it bothered him, and he wondered if that bratty little White Child next door had taken them, just to mess with his mind.

The Daily Word Codes were pretty important for everyone over the age of six, something known to everyone by the time they were three or four years old. Determined not to go outside or answer the phone before he checked for an update, MRCX slipped on his Google glasses and found today's codes in his online mailbox. Good thing, too, because apparently a few things had happened overnight that were of note: It was no longer deemed acceptable for non-minorities to use the words "gay," "peace," "brother" or "sister."

It was getting harder and harder to keep up, MRCX thought to himself, sipping his chai-ginger-turmeric-nonfat, gluten-free, tofu-latte smoothie and thanking his lucky stars that he was a member in good standing of The Thought Police. If not for that, he might be Banned For Life.

Here a Snip, There a Snip

Swoosie with her new breasts and face.
The fine actress Swoosie Kurtz, who I personally adored in every role she has ever played so don't think this is a hate speech, is apparently trying to revitalize her flagging career. She is after all 69, and so by all rights nobody should be expected to look at her ever again. But, not ready to climb up onto her ice floe just yet, instead she has written a new memoir and is now doing the interview circuit. One of the things she has dredged up from her past, like 40 years ago, is the fact that she had an abortion. It was terrible for her. In fact, she said it was "the most agonizing thing" she ever went through in her whole life!

Well I too had an abortion a long time ago and it wasn't hard at all. I was asleep for the entire seven minutes of the procedure, and when I woke up they gave me orange juice and Chips Ahoy, and I went home and rested for a few hours in front of the TV.  As for the emotional side of things, that also was not hard since the decision was a no-brainer and a fairly obvious solution at the time. (Abortion is not always a heartbreak, which explains why millions of women clamor for it to remain legal and use it as a form of birth control.)

The funny thing about Swoosie is that she found that abortion so difficult, but she has not found it difficult to have a nose job, two new breasts inserted into her body made out of God-knows-what, and a facelift wherein they peel off your skin, hang it on a little stand while they cut away fat and muscles from your face, then slap your skin back on, trim it so it fits, and sew it back on, trying to hide the stitches. Then your face is numb for months, perhaps years, and you might end up looking bad too. Also, your breasts could explode.

Call me madcap, but that all seems way harder than terminating an unwanted pregnancy the size of a tadpole.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chocolates and Mooses

The only moose I have ever seen here is a chocolate one...
Many people ask me what's wrong with living in Maine anyway, since I do tend to complain about it ad nauseum. After all, it's the epitome of beautiful, scenic, easygoing, no hassle living right? Right. But still, some things bug me, like:

1. At my last job interview, which was scheduled after I answered an ad on Craigslist and had a positive phone conversation with the employer, and for which I dressed professionally and arrived punctually, the 6-year-old granddaughter of the interviewer was present the whole time. She wanted to sit on Grammy's lap! She kept asking what we were talking about! She wanted to color and needed crayons and paper! She was hungry! All of this bullshit went on while I tried to enumerate my qualifications and inquire about the job's requirements. My interviewer, a.k.a. Grammy, was naturally quite distracted. The wobbly stool I was sitting on was held together with duct tape. Scads of people interrupted us many times during the interview. But the WORST part was that, although this was a chocolate shop well-known for its chocolates, I learned on a tour of the premises that they actually BUY THE CHOCOLATE IN BIG BLOCKS FROM SOMEONE WHO REALLY DOES MAKES CHOCOLATE SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! Then they melt it in big vats in what the call their "factory," and pour it into molds and slap their own labels on it. Oh please.

2. I have lived here for more than five years and have never seen a moose, yet there are signs all over that say "Watch Out for Moose" or "Moose Crossing." I now believe, as my husband conjectured years ago, that the signs are for the benefit of the tourists and there are no moose anywhere around here, except for Lenny the Moose (see photo) in Scarborough, Maine.

Those two things, and the fact that there are no Jewish doctors, are really the only problems.

What Really Matters

How would we feel if we didn't know what was happening in the rest of the world? Better, I suspect. So for just one day I am going on a news diet. No more bombings or tornadoes or sinking ferries or missing airliners, just one of my cats threw up on the oriental carpet and it looks like the clematis from last spring is returning. After all, knowing about all that other stuff serves no purpose other than cocktail party chit-chat, and here in Maine there is no such thing as a cocktail party.

What is relevant news is that the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster crab shack and lobster pound is re-opening for the season on May 2. They also have some incredible fried onion rings. Get there before the crowds.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Call Me Skeptical

It's surprising that many people are so quick to believe the most bizarre things, among them the current scandal involving the owner of the Clippers basketball team. He allegedly said, in a phone call with his mistress, that she should not bring black people to his games. First of all, she is black herself and he is or was sleeping with her, so-- huh?

Digging around, I found one pertinent fact hidden under the mania now sweeping the Internet and giving everyone a new person to hate, just like back in grade school: According to the NBA commissioner investigating the case, “We do know that the woman on the tape – who we believe released it to TMZ – is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.'"

While I know almost nothing about way too much, I listened to that tape and it sure sounded phony to me. And I do know from first-hand experience that so much of "the truth" online is completely manufactured. (I did really write this, however.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dancing With the Liberals on Facebook

Hate Monsanto
 Love the Obamas 
Hate Joan Rivers because she said a bad thing
Don't admit to eating red meat
Watch "Dancing With the Stars" and really care
Always be reading the #1 book on the New York Times list
Be in a book club
Read only the New York Times
Drive a Prius or something like it
Have a Twitter account
Desperately want Hillary Clinton for President
Worship Oprah
Be overweight and proud of it
Hate every Bush but Barbara
Eat organic everything
Embarrassed to be white
Hate Rush Limbaugh with a passion
Disrespect FOX News
Adore Rachel Maddow, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert
Drink decaf chai tea or latte
Stay hydrated

Friday, April 25, 2014

That Old Mean Rivers

Joan Rivers at 79.
Navigating the social media seas can be tricky, but not if you know the rules. In order to have total strangers love you on Twitter and Facebook, there are a few basics you need to get down:

1. Fat people are always loved a ton, no pun intended, much more than thin women with fabulous figures or men with hunky physiques. If you want a lot of friends, just complain pitifully about your genetic glandular condition that keeps you eating chocolate chip cookies or prevents you from moving your butt.

2. Hate whoever everyone else seems to hate right now. Today it's Joan Rivers, for some silly joke she made on TV about those kidnapped women living rent free for ten years.  She's a comedienne for chrissake; her job is to be outrageous and say things you wouldn't, but now she is seen as Hitler.  If you call her "an old bag" in your status today you will get lots of extra Likes, and maybe even a few new friend requests.

3. Being handicapped helps, so if you have a debilitating disease or are limited or challenged in any way, make sure everyone knows about it.

4. Committing suicide is a great way to get lots of online love. My friend who shot herself almost two years ago still has a Facebook page, and people always write on it that they love her and miss her, yet not one of them kept her from feeling so alone that she chose to end her life. Go figure. This of course is a last resort and one that I am not recommending, mostly because you won't be here to reap the rewards.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

RMD in 2016?

The new Ronald....
Well this really puts things in perspective. Ronald McDonald, a fictional character whose purpose is to promote the international hamburger chain McDonald's, has gotten himself a Twitter account. He is expected to use it to send "selfies" to show off his brand new makeover which features updated clothing. No more jumpsuit, instead a jacket and tie, albeit in the same red and yellow. Still, could this be a ploy to make himself more like his intended constituents? Obviously he's planning a run at the presidency in 2016.  And hey, why not---he's already a clown, and that's half the job requirement.

.... is more sophisticated than the original.

Don't Miss National Grilled Cheese Month!

Just like I was a day late remembering Earth Day, I learned today that April, now three-quarters gone, is National Grilled Cheese Month. This irks me because A, I love grilled cheese and even though I rarely eat it anymore because it is so unhealthy I would have liked to celebrate and B, it's just one more way I am out of the loop living up here near the northern border of these great United States.

As for cheese, there are many outstanding choices here in Maine, what with all the cows and the farmers and the local family-run markets. It's hard to say which is the best, but two superior brands come to mind: Pineland Farms and Hahn's End. Purchase the former at and learn more about the latter at

A fabulous grilled cheese sandwich, which is the only kind to have, made with two slices of whole-grain or sourdough bread and two ounces of cheddar, Swiss or any hard cheese, cooked in a skillet on the stove top with lots of butter since you are going for classic taste and gooey goodness, has about 570 calories. Throw in some extras like bacon or mashed avocado and you can up that total considerably. By using reduced calorie cheese that tastes like rubber, "light" bread that has the consistency of marshmallows, and cooking spray that will further damage the Earth's ozone layer, you'll cut the calorie count almost in half, but why bother?

Keeping America Safe

Yesterday, driving through our sleepy little town, I was stopped by a policeman. I saw him do a U-turn in my rear view mirror so I knew he was coming, but he sure took his time about it, following me for about half a mile. (I guess he got a kick out of seeing me slow down to 25mph exactly, otherwise why not stop me right away?) On came the flashing blue light and the siren, which was overkill since it was about two in the afternoon on a country lane with nobody else around. The siren--really?

He had clocked me doing 40 in a 25mph zone. Okay, fine, give me a ticket, I can afford it, I just hate the  lecture. After studying my papers back in his cop car and finding out I was not an escaped convict or one of the FBI's Most Wanted he returned, stuck practically his whole head inside my car and, almost nose to nose, asked, "Do you know, Andrea, what would happen if everyone speeded?"

Annoyed that he had called me by my first name, which I found impertinent seeing as how he was about 30 years my junior, I said, "Even though it's correct, I believe sped sounds better." He appeared confused, then let me off with a warning. I'm not sure which one of us learned something.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why Hillary Should Be Our Next President

In case you, like me, are wondering why the heck Hillary Clinton should be elected our next president, seeing as she has done almost nothing of note, I checked around and found the following reasons from a host of Internet sources:

"Being the fodder for numerous internet memes may seem like the most ephemeral of achievements, but Clinton's ascendancy in the world of pop culture must be counted as a victory for a politician who was once widely viewed as calculating and heartless."-- Ryu Spaeth, Deputy Editor, THE WEEK

"Perhaps Hillary’s greatest accomplishment occurred during the absurd attack by the Clinton Conspiracy wing of the conservative resurgence on Willy’s private parts.... Her simple refusal to respond as a stereotypical appendage to a male patriarch, more than anything else, cemented her reputation as an independent free-thinker and elevated the status of women in America to an irrefutable position of equality."  -Daily Kos

"I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race. You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton."--Hillary Clinton

"I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort, could point out one."  --Jen Psaki, spokesperson for Clinton, when asked to name one accomplishement of Hillary as Secretary of State.

"She has been a strong advocate for a revamping of society morally, stating we were suffering from a 'sleeping sickness of the soul.'"- Anonymous 

"Her star power and ability to capture the imagination of individuals around the world is one noteworthy aspect of her success."--Eli Sugarman

Pete Souza/ Getty Images
"Clinton was not intimately involved in the clandestine operation to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011, but she will be indelibly linked to the moment, thanks to a photograph showing her real-time response to the operation in the White House Situation Room."--THE WEEK

I must say, Hillary's placement of her hand over her mouth in the photo above tells me all I need to know about her leadership abilities. I feel a lot better now.

Things You Need to Know

Yesterday was Earth Day and I forgot. I did not do one thing for the Earth, and today I am filled with remorse. Is there such a thing as a Belated Earth Day? Was yesterday the only day to behave well, or can I still recycle, compost and not pollute today too?

I blame myself, of course, for this oversight. If I had only tuned in to CNN early yesterday morning, I would have caught their news feature entitled, "5 Things You Need to Know for Your Day." Good thing I saw it this morning and found out that:
1. The missing Malaysian plane is still missing
2. They pulled up 156 dead bodies from that sunken Korean ferry
3. Obama is going on a 4-day trip starting in Japan

I missed numbers 4 and 5, dammit, because I got bored and left the room, and now I'll just be out of the loop all day long, I guess. That CNN is a godsend!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

All the News They Choose to Print

Typical up-to-speed Maine family gathered around the local paper.
There is a so-called community newspaper printed here in Maine called The Forecaster. It's filled with the usual Mom and Pop advertisements, listings for church bean suppers and yard sales and blurry black & white photos of older ladies volunteering at the local thrift shop and the local champion lacrosse and tennis players getting their trophies. It is also filled with sad columns by bad writers masquerading as "down home" humor and/or political commentary. Once in a great while there is actually something worth reading, but that's rare, as the Editor would not recognize decent journalism if it came up and bit him on the ass. I was engaged in talks pertaining to writing for him until I came to my senses, fortunately in the nick of time.

Over the past five years I have posted comments to The Forecaster online responding to articles that contained particularly egregious errors. The last time was many months ago, perhaps a year or more. Today I tried to do so again, but instead I received the notice:"YOU HAVE BEEN BLOCKED BY THE FORECASTER FROM LEAVING COMMENTS."

And there you have Maine in a nutshell: No dissenting opinions allowed in this "community," especially not from snooty former Washington Post writers who grew up in New York. To them they say, "Just shut up and eat yer lobster!"

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I had a "smart" phone for the last two days, and I hated myself. During that time, I felt dumber and believe I actually was dumber. For example, I could never answer it when it rang. I kept swiping the damn thing as instructed, but to no avail. I took a few pictures with it and they were all blurry. I did, however, always know the temperature in Freeport, Maine, something I could find out by simply stepping outside, or looking at the thermometer on the back porch, or checking the newspaper, or turning on the TV.

My husband, being an avowed Early Adopter, naturally has an iPhone; I think he got it on the first day they existed. He is embarrassed to be seen in public with me when I use my little AT&T flip-phone, so when it finally broke and I needed a new one, he browbeat me into submission with name-calling: "Dinosaur" was the one that finally made me cave.

The thing is, I don't want to check the weather or my email or hear music or take pictures or play games or write messages or look at Facebook or do any of the things everyone is always doing in restaurants on my phone. I just want to talk on it. So I returned that stupid smart phone this morning, opting for a new old-fashioned dumb phone.

I feel good about myself again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fat Jokes

                       Gordon Studer
Having readers is a blessing and a curse: A blessing because I might connect with someone out there who agrees with me, or is made to reconsider a previously held view, or just gets a good laugh, and a curse when mean-spirited people leave nasty comments.

But even more than the nasty comments, the curse of having readers involves not being able to write what I wish for fear of offending someone, most likely a family member. Or perhaps some misguided soul out there --probably a liberal--who actually believes that his or her personal political view means a damn thing to anyone, and so, if I were to go off on our big-eared doofus of a president, would get all hot and bothered.

So I carefully pick and choose subjects that won't offend but still let me vent. After all, blogging is easier than therapy, I can do it any time of day or night, and it's free. As for my penchant for insulting fat people, you simply cannot say enough bad stuff to them or about them, because any one of those teeny insults might just be what it takes to wake them up and save their one and only life from being a wasted joke.

What Flavor Are You?

I was glad to spot a 6-pack of certified organic jumbo duck eggs at my local trendy, all-natural, politically correct, smug food market yesterday, and quickly snatched them up. They're not always available, and I was looking forward to their extra-creamy, buttery, better-than-chicken-eggs flavor. As I was waited to check out, a Chinese woman behind me asked, "What do you do with duck eggs?" Wondering what else one might do with duck eggs, I said, in that questioning, Valley-girl way, "Eat them?"

The lady flashed a look of surprise, then explained that she had eaten them often as a child in her native country but had always found them to taste "too fishy." I know ducks hang out in the water and eat a lot of fish, but I've never found duck eggs to taste like anything but eggs. Heck, they don't even taste like duck.

That got me wondering if humans from the New England area would also taste too fishy, if people from New Jersey would taste like pizza, and so on. After considerable thought, I decided that I would taste like coffee and Chianti, not a bad combo if you think about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

You're Only As Old as You Look

Yesterday morning, as I was strapped onto a gurney and wheeled into the very special room for my very special procedure, the nurse pushing my bed offered, "Your husband is quite a youthful-looking fellow." Mitch had just gone off in search of breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, armed with one of those restaurant gizmos that flash red lights when your table is ready, only in this instance I was the table.

"That's because he's 11 years younger than me," I said, sorry to burst her bubble that somewhere a Fountain of Youth actually does exist.

"Wow, good for you for scoring a younger man," she said with a big smile. Then she added, "Personally, I go for older men myself--even the ones my own age are still so immature." I readily agreed, partly because it's true and everyone knows it and partly because whatever was dripping from an IV bag into my arm made me feel quite agreeable. Still, people are constantly--and I mean constantly--remarking on how lucky I am, or sexy, adventurous, or who-knows-what, that a younger man was attracted to me and still is. This is offensive to say the least. Our age difference is something Mitch and I have had to overcome, believe me.

For instance, Mitch does not have any memory of Ricky Nelson, and I can still recall exactly where I was when I heard the sad news about his plane crash. My husband, the father of my only child, was a six-year-old first-grader when JFK was killed, while I was senior in high school and had to drive my mother to the hospital after the stitches from her hysterectomy a week earlier ripped apart due to her non-stop sobbing. Mitch was at home watching inane sitcoms like Flipper and Gilligan's Island when I was already in college and busy being sophisticated. Weirdest of all, I'm pretty sure his bar mitvah was on the same day I married my first husband, or close to it.

Anyway, that nurse still found our union somewhat titillating, and as I left the hospital on Mitch's arm, she said with a wink, "I'm sure he'll take good care of you!" On the flip side, the other night at the movies the ticket taker said, "That'll be $14.00," charging us both the "senior" discounted fee, two dollars less than full price, without missing a beat. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Medical Marvel

Surely somebody evil, or at least with a twisted sense of humor, came up with the prep for the colonoscopy, the diagnostic test for colon cancer. I have not been able to find out specifically who, which is not surprising as that person must be living under an assumed name somewhere in Nicaragua.

I underwent the procedure early this morning, after spending yesterday fasting and last night ingesting 64 ounces of a ghastly concoction of Miralax and Gatorade, the Latin name for which is rattae poisonus. I chose the lemon-lime flavor, which is no better or worse than all the other flavors except for pineapple, which is more horrible than anything you will ever experience outside of being held prisoner of war in a country that hates America (your choice). Just to make it really awful, the rule is you must consume the liquid in exactly one hour. Once inside you it behaves like battery acid, eating away at the walls of your colon. (Oh well, at least something was eating.)

I would go on but I won't. I'm thrilled it's over, that I am free of it for another five years, and that I do not have colon cancer. That's great news, although the test did not clear all my other body parts so I could still have oral, throat, stomach, esophageal, liver, lung, pancreatic, cervical, skin, ovarian, breast, bone, blood or brain cancer. (I feel like I'm leaving something out, but you get the point.)

There's nothing funny about the whole subject, but the brilliant comic Robert Klein found one way to make it more palatable. The last time I saw him perform he opened his act with his hysterically funny ode to the colonoscopy, which you can see him perform on YouTube (paste link into your browser):

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stupid Lists

Morgan Freeman: Underrated or over-employed?
Whenever I'm feeling sorry for myself, like right now because I'm having a colonosocopy tomorrow so you know what I'm doing today, I console myself by saying, "At least I don't have to come up with stupid story ideas like they have on AOL." Those poor writers must toss and turn all night, tortured by the inane lists they need by the morning news meeting. Things like "7 Style Trends Coming This Spring" and "10 Things to Do With Matzo." (FYI, wearing black jeans with a white shirt is one of the new trends, and all of the matzo things have to do with eating it.)

Earlier today I read one such list entitled, "The 10 Most Tragically Underrated Actors of All Time." First of all, how tragic is it to be an underrated actor, as compared to say, losing a limb at the Boston Marathon exactly one year ago today? Second, Morgan Freeman is on that list, and even though he gets a lot of parts in a lot of movies, supposedly he is still underrated, so I'm wondering how bad it is to be underrated if you show up in every movie and narrate every TV commercial and documentary ever made? Anyway, since I'm delirious from the lack of food, I decided to come up with my own "stupid" lists:

1. The World's Stupidest Anti-Semitic Act: This occurred yesterday, when a man with a long history of hatred towards Jews murdered three people, two outside of a Jewish Community Center and another outside a Jewish Senior Center, on the eve of Passover and shouting "Heil Hitler!" How annoying for him that none of the dead were Jews. (One Catholic, two Protestants.) Lesson learned: Always check for proof before shooting Jews.

2. The 10 Stupidest Things to Do While Fasting: Go out for brunch, bake Tollhouse cookies, order pizza, watch "Julie & Julia," thumb through old copies of Gourmet, organize your recipe file, fry up some bacon, read "Eat, Love, Pray," make popcorn, clean out the refrigerator.

3. The 3 Stupidest Activities to Have at a 50-Year High-School Reunion: A guided walk around the small town where the school is and that everybody couldn't wait to leave; a pizza party in the school gym with no alcohol allowed; a lecture by a local historian about the small town where nothing ever happened.

4. The 6 Worst Names for Nail Polish Colors: Vomit Green, Sunburn, Orange You Glad, Yellow Fever, Blue Baby, Mudslide.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sick of Sex

A friend of mine posted the graphic image shown above on his Facebook page. "It's a joke," he says. Only to me it's not funny. The sexualization of everything in America, and the rest of the world for all I know, is tiring, childish, depressing, stupid and boring. I am sick to death of hearing about Viagra and Cialis and erections lasting more than four hours. Sometimes I feel like the penis runs the world.

Hey, don't get me wrong: I have had more than my share of birth control, orgasms, unwanted pregnancies and abortions. I've had enough sex to last me three lifetimes. And guess what? I'm still looking for a job, I still have to have a colonoscopy the day after tomorrow, and I'm still getting old, still unfulfilled and still worried about my kid. Sex is not a cure for anything except wanting sex, yet it is used to hawk everything from pizza to cars to cigarettes. Name it, and there's an ad promising, "Use our product and before you can say herpes simplex, you too can have a penis inserted into your vagina." Or vice versa.

Big deal. Shut up already.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Film Review: NOAH (Sucks)

This pile of sticks is the Ark, not exactly a Carnival Cruise ship.
"NOAH" is a must-see because it is the worst movie ever made in the history of movies, and who would want to miss that? Also, it shows the earliest home-pregnancy test in use. Besides those highlights the music was horrible, the script was worse, and the acting, except for an entertaining cameo by Anthony Hopkins, was middle-school-play quality. I must have checked my watch ten times to see how much longer I'd have to sit there. (The running time is two hours and 18 minutes but feels longer. In fact, my right foot fell asleep after the first hour and by the end of the movie I had lost all feeling in my leg.)

Seeing "NOAH" would be greatly enhanced by being either very drunk or very stoned, preferably both. I was neither, for which I am to be pitied. On the plus side, when it ends you feel happy because A, it is finally over, and B, you were not in it. You also feel sad for Russell Crowe (Noah), who has fallen so far since his glorious performance in "Gladiator," and for Jennifer Connelly (Mrs. Noah), about whom you ask, "Whatever happened to her and how come she stopped making movies?" Now you know.

I have never read the Bible so I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure there were no gigantic talking rocks that looked like transformers mentioned. But there are quite a few of those in this movie. They are called The Watchers. Apparently they were all angels who did a bad thing, causing God to cover them with molten lava. Since then they have lived as rocks, but with hands and feet and strange faces lit from within; turns out it's the lava talking. The end credits roll by in an instant, but if you pay attention you learn that the leader of the Watchers is played by Nick Nolte. I did not recognize him at all, since all those talking rocks look alike.

The fabulous flood, which is the main reason I wanted to see the movie, was a major disappointment, not half as satisfying as the terrifying tsunami depicted in "The Impossible." Heck, it wasn't even as convincing as the storm in "The Perfect Storm," which looked like it was shot in a bathtub, which it was. The flood in "NOAH" is more like the ocean during rough seas, and nothing a Dramamine can't handle. As for the ark, one minute there's a forest of trees and the next there's the ark already built, thanks to those giant talking rocks who turn out to be damn good boat-builders. Too bad they built it without the audience seeing as much as a hammer hitting a nail! (I felt cheated.) We did get to see the animals come on board, but they were so obviously computer-generated that it wasn't nearly as thrilling as two hours at the Bronx Zoo.

Noah loses his grip on reality and is a total environmental wacko at the end. A precursor to Al Gore, he believed that God had chosen him to save the world, but without any people in it since Man had ruined the planet. To that end, he's ready to murder his newborn grandchildren. Clearly delusional, Noah repeatedly talks to God by going outside and shouting up into the clouds, whereas everyone with half a brain knows that the only way God can hear you is in when you are mumbling to him inside a church.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Be On the Lookout

Pretty in pink: The deadly MRSA strain under a microscope.
Considering the alternatives, it's peculiar what the mainstream media chooses to scream about. Politics and terrorists and movie stars on drugs, housing starts and the stock market, and of course international strife and Obamacare, dominate. Next we get to hear about who's on "Dancing With the Stars" and what Miley Cyrus did, and someone named Taylor Swift and what she's wearing. And though the pings from that missing Malaysian plane still make headlines, there is nary a peep outside of JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) about something called MRSA, a horrible, terrible, life-threatening, limb-destroying Superbug roaming hospital corridors both here and abroad.

As an avid follower of all sorts of news, including print journalism, TV and the Internet, I knew almost nothing about this problem. Even after attending several information seminars pertaining to my upcoming, and now cancelled, hip surgery, I was still virtually in the dark on the subject. Then yesterday afternoon, on a casual neighborhood walk, I chanced to meet a lady whose husband has spent the last year fighting for life and limb, losing a hip and having a heart attack in a Boston hospital, all stemming from a deadly infection he picked up during a relatively minor outpatient surgical procedure. 

My neighbor called her husband's infection "mersa," and I pretended to know what she was talking about despite being clueless. Once home I did some research and learned a few of the dreaded facts. (Last year the number of cases rose from 21 infections per 1,000 people to 42 per 1,000, according to CDC statistics.) If I had not cancelled my surgery already, I certainly would have after reading about MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

It seems like your doctor (and mine) should at least mention the existence of MRSA, and thus the possibility of contracting it, before strapping you onto the operating table and cutting you open. And we all certainly deserve to hear more about it than we do about Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Rich

Nice earrings, but can you drive them?
I recently did some research on women's handbags and was stunned to learn that some of them cost as much as a car, or two cars, and even three cars and a chauffeur for the day. I'm not kidding; a few of the most pretentious of designer bags produced by the most pretentious of designers crack the million-dollar mark. I suppose if you are very wealthy that's run-of-the-mill, but still I wonder how the decision is made: A handbag necessary for absolutely nothing except to impress, or a brand new SUV with which to further dent the ozone.

Pity the rich, for they are faced with such tough decisions every day. Take, for example, jewelry. How much is too much to spend for a pair of earrings that will in no way impact the outcome of any important life event? A cheap pair for $25 versus a pair for $45,000; both just dangle there, doing nothing. Let's see: Brighten my face or feed a starving family of four for a year?

So whenever you think you've got a tough row to hoe, just be glad you don't have to grapple with issues like those.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jewelry Trumps Surgery

Until just a few hours ago I was scheduled to get a new hip in less than one month. New hips, called replacements, are very popular these days among members of my generation. Just about everyone's doing it, and they all seem to be quite happy with the results, not counting those patients who died on the table.

Call me madcap, but I've been dreading having what looks like a microphone installed in my body. Surgery is just not my thing. Unless they declare, "You must do this or you will die," I can't seem to get myself up for the pre-surgery medications and the post-operative painkillers and the no showers for ten days and two weeks of no driving and a month on Coumadin--that alone could kill me-- and the walker and the cane and all those antibiotics I'll have to take before I go to the dentist for the rest of my life.

Truth be told, even though my X-rays say it should, my hip doesn't hurt. So I'm keeping it, and getting new earrings instead.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God Forgive Us for the Whole Schmear

With Passover less than a week away, many observant Jews, like their ancestors before them, will be tossing all their cakes, muffins, cookies, pies and breads and switching to matzo, the unleavened bread that symbolizes what the Hebrews ate when they were enslaved in Egypt, or what the Israelites ate when they were fleeing Egypt and had no time for their bread to rise, or something like that. Thousands of years later in 2014 (a.k.a. The Year of the Fat Pig), we tend to dress up our matzo.

Take, for example, the recipe for 18 Layer No Bake Matzo S'more Cake on the back of this year's Manischewitz package, in which you are directed to "shmear a layer of melted chocolate" onto each square of matzo. Of course the correct word is smear, but in a nod to the old Jews in Florida and Queens, New York who still talk funny, they went with schmear (although spelled incorrectly), like one does with cream cheese on a bagel. How very German/Jewish of them.

Based on that unholy mess which for some reason seems sacrilegious, at our house we are nixing the matzo in favor of some high-fiber, whole grain bread, and asking God's forgiveness for all of it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Say "No" to Fat

An alarming trend, and one that seems to be growing, is the general acceptance of obesity as the appropriate condition for women over a certain age. It all started with Oprah, way back when: She was fat and everyone loved her, so fat must be fine, the thinking went. Still, even Oprah didn't like being fat and so she made several very public stabs at dieting, once losing quite a bit of weight and looking fabulous, but eventually gaining it all back. Now that she's over 50, who cares; isn't every woman over 50 the size of a trash bin?

The answer is clearly "Yes," at least on TV. There are several sitcoms with fat leading ladies we are supposed to find sexy and attractive despite their girth. The worst offenders are those home shopping shows which are popping up all over the dial. Watching QVC, my favorite way to decompress, is nothing short of hysterical, with the hosts hawking the lowliest t-shirt as if it were the world's most miraculous find. They natter on like they were selling antiquities from the tomb of Tutankhamen, rather than some cheap garments churned out in a Sri Lanka sweatshop.

But I digress. The point is, many of the models on these shows are cows, I mean "plus-size," and they look bad despite how much we are told that they look good. I mean really, how sexy is a "fun little black dress" gonna be in size 3x? I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I believe humans, regardless of age, are not meant to be fat and should not accept it. Fat is a choice; make a better one.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sometimes the Grass Really Is Greener

A tree blooming in Washington.
Living in Maine where there's little to do besides frolic in the great outdoors-- difficult to pull off when the outdoors is frozen solid--one forgets there's a party going on in the rest of America, or at least in Washington, D.C., where I spent the last four days and where people are actually having a tough time deciding what to do. There was no snow anywhere, green grass covered vast expanses and flowers bloomed at every turn. There are a million museums and about 10 million restaurants, and that's not counting all the pizza places. A good time is being had by many, even in bad weather. (It was cloudy that day.)

During our visit to friends who live in a rural paradise half an hour's drive from the nation's capitol, we ventured into the city only one afternoon, but those five hours were enough to start my engines and make me remember life before Maine. There was excitement in the air, not just bird noises! The streets were bustling with people of all colors and ages, not just old white people in fleece! There were tall buildings and bookstores and buses and subways, and best of all, strangers responded when you spoke to them, and more than a few said "Excuse me" when they needed to get by. Another notable fact was that the Whole Foods store offered tons of samples--you could make a meal in there--whereas the lone Whole Foods store up here does not even let you smell something for free. Not that I would opt to move somewhere just for free samples at a supermarket, but it's on the list, and the list is growing.

Today, however, I'm back here in the stillness, alone with my thoughts once again. It's almost time to go the post office and get the mail, take my walk around our little town, and appreciate the absence of just about everything. There's plenty of time to "be here now," even though I kind of wish I were still there then.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dead Facebookers

While there are a few things about death that worry me, none seem quite as creepy as still having a Facebook page after I have been cremated or stuck whole in the ground, my soul or spirit or chi or Qi or whatever the heck it is flitting around out there without access to a computer and definitely without fingers even if I happened upon a computer. And yet there I be, on Facebook, with regular status updates (still dead; sorry I haven't called; this place sucks; wish you were here) dutifully posted by my surviving family members. And even a different profile picture every so often--all old ones from when I was alive since new ones are out of the question. This is one of the unseemly practices Facebook should prohibit.

Hidden Meanings

Euphemisms are everywhere in our culture. To cast the widest net possible, people don't say what they mean, they say what sounds best. I learned just this morning that fast-food joints are now called "quick service restaurants." Of course I've known for years that old ladies are actually "women of a certain age," disobedient children are suffering from "oppositional disorder," and rolls of fat around the waist are "love handles."

Euphemisms aren't new. The best one I ever heard was  back in 1987 when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. His doctors called a family meeting to update us on his deteriorating condition. They said that following surgery, one they recommended to insure him "a more comfortable passing," Dad's condition would improve for several months until, ultimately, he would "have a problem."

Me: But he already has a problem--he has colon cancer. What problem do you mean?
Doctor: He will die.

Now that's a problem.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy April Fools

Obama celebrating with his wife and mother-in-law last Christmas.
Wow, we are so lucky to have such a great president living in the White House. And Michelle his lovely wife to boot. And her fabulous mother, and their two beautiful daughters, who could ask for more? Plus they are all black, which makes it so much better since it tells the world America is not racist. How could we be? And starting today, Obama has made it possible for everyone to have free health care with just a simple click of their mouse! What a great country.